Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What I Ate in Hawaii, Part 1

I really don't know where to start, so I'll just say this: Hawaii is a culinary wonderland, and I hope you get to go there.

I have lots of dewy observations about Hawaiian cuisine that have probably been made by countless others before me (why, it's East meets West!) so I'll spare you those. If you want the real deal, check out Rachel Laudan's The Food of Paradise. If you just want to know what I ate during my trip there last week, read on. I'll try not to use the words "lush," "exotic," and "better" too often.

I'll start by introducing you to the first Hawaiian food that I was introduced to. Reader, meet poke. Looks amazing, doesn't it?

It is! Poke, pronounced poh-kay, is a raw fish dish that consists of super-fresh seafood and ample seasoning. It's tempting to compare it to ceviche or sashimi, but poke is its own beast, it is absolutely scrumptious, and I miss it dearly. And I can't say that about too many beasts.

Depending on the variety, poke will also contain slivers of raw onion, seaweed, or even kimchi. Though poke is a traditional dish, like most Hawaiian foods its modern incarnation folds in elements that originated with other cultures. But some of my favorite "flavors" included Polynesian ingredients like the kukui nuts you see sprinkled on the ahi poke above.

Elise's favorite was, hands down, the smoked marlin, which in texture was close to jerky. Smoked marlin poke was sweet, salty, spicy, and of course smokey and marliny. It went very well with the baby soft white rice that we always ate with our poke, which usually came from the Tamura's in Honolulu. Not necessarily what you'd expect from a liquor store, but it was probably the best thing you could buy there.

With its high protein content, cool temperature and oceanic flavors, poke is the perfect post-beach food. I ate some after surfing, which I also tried for the first time. Hard to say which I liked better.

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Anonymous said...

Literally mouth watering photos of the poke, mon! This is also the first item I have encountered that highlights soley the cusine of Hawaii (I don't get out a lot, obviously) and its a revelation.

Andrew Slack said...

Sounds like you had an amazing trip! Want to hear more about the food and more.

Poke from Tamuras is also my favorite dish in Hawaii. I ate copious amounts and not to the benefit of my wallet's weight. My favorite was Poke with Wasabi. Soooo freakin' good and fresh and delicious that it's hard to put into words.

Don Cuevas said...

(I arrived here via Rachel Paudan's blog.)

Poke looks great. I'm a big fan of raw fish in various forms.

About smoked marlin: there's a Mexican version, marlín ahumado, which is prpepared shredded and seasoned with tomatoes and chiles. It is served warm or hot on tostada crisps. I once stuffed some pimientos piquillos with marlín ahumado mixed with cream cheese to serve as an appetizer. It was a big hit with our guests.

Don Cuevas

Samantha said...

I wouldn't know which to eat first. They all look so beautiful.

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